Unhealthy Start: Junior marches back from mono

Severe abdominal pain. Constant nausea. Long-lasting headaches. Extreme fatigue.

These are just a few of the most common symptoms used to diagnose mononucleosis, better know as mono, or “the kissing disease.” This illness, which is most common among teens, typically lasts about six weeks and can make life a living nightmare for those who contract it.

A newly claimed victim of this awful sickness is junior Sylvia Brown. Brown first noticed a problem with her health around the end of August.

“I had super weird abdominal pain that was unlike anything I’d ever had before,” she said. “Throughout that whole week, I was super tired and fell asleep in random places.”

After several days, Brown went in to talk to her doctor about the issues. Blood test results showed an abnormally high white blood cell count. She was advised to take things slow, get plenty of rest and come back if things still weren’t improving.

After another subpar week with zero improvement, Brown returned in the hopes of receiving some sort of diagnosis. She was finally provided with a clear answer, but it was anything but desirable. Mono.

Over the last three weeks, Brown has done her best to stay as active in her school work and extracurriculars as her body will allow. However, she said this hasn’t been easy.

“I’ve been trying not to miss school, but I get really tired,” she said, “and then cross country is hard because I really want to be running, but then I can’t because I shouldn’t be overexerting myself.”

Despite it’s reputation, mononucleosis is not only spread through kissing. Just like most flu bugs and common colds, it is passed through saliva. Thus, things like coughs, sneezes, shared drinks and utensils, and, of course, kissing can all promote the spread of the virus.

Common symptoms of mono include nausea, abdominal pain, headaches, fatigue, a sore throat, fevers, swollen tonsils and even a soft, swollen spleen.

Those suffering from several of these symptoms may have mono, and health assistant Betsy Schmitz urges medical attention. “You should go to the doctor and have it checked out first, and then besides that, there’s really not a whole lot you can do,” she said.

Most health professionals recommend treating any bodily discomfort with over-the-counter pain relievers.  Drinking plenty of water and fruit juice also helps to relieve fevers and sore throats. Finally, get plenty of rest. This may include taking things slow at school or work, and especially in extracurriculars such as athletics, music and social events.

“It’s not as bad as most people think,” Brown said. “I just try to fight through it a little bit, which might be good or it might not be.”

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